Armada (Magill's Literary Annual 1989)
Any historical event is an impossibly complex topic; assessing the forces that “produce” a specific occurrence is largely a matter of exclusion as much as inclusion. When the scope of the event is enormously large itself, when the import of the occurrence is such that it holds a place in almost every historical survey offered to students from elementary school through college, the event tends to take on a life, and its effects a standardized assessment, of its own.
Such is the case with the defeat, in the year 1588, of the Spanish Armada. Excepting 1492 and 1776, perhaps no date is memorized as often by American students as that of this battle. The popular “facts” of the encounter between the English and Spanish naval forces have become institutionalized: An agressive queen defeated a complacent king; the stakes were control of the New World; the destiny of English-speaking peoples hinged upon the outcome of a raging sea battle; the Spanish lost what control of the world’s oceans they had; the English demonstrated an ability to control the seas through massed naval power, a control that was to last for nearly four hundred years.
Peter Padfield does an elegant and erudite job of separating those assumptions from the facts and of offering, in a very convincing argument, some ideas to replace those assumptions that he considers inaccurate. His contentions are as much a product of his approach to history—his decisions regarding what to...
(The entire section is 1337 words.)
Want to Read More?
Subscribe now to read the rest of this article. Plus get complete access to 30,000+ study guides!
Bibliography (Magill's Literary Annual 1989)
Booklist. LXXXV, September 1, 1988, p. 33.
Chicago Tribune. February 23, 1988, V, p. 3.
The Christian Science Monitor. March 11, 1988, p. 20.
Library Journal. CXIII, September 1, 1988, p. 168.
London Review of Books. X, July 7, 1988, p. 3.
Punch. CCXCIV, May 6, 1988, p. 49.
The Spectator. CCLX, June 25, 1988, p. 36.
The Times Literary Supplement. December 2, 1988, p. 1346.
The Wall Street Journal. CCXI, July 21, 1988, p. 14.
The Washington Post Book World. XVIII, August 14, 1988, p. 1.
(The entire section is 57 words.)